Nestled in the heart of Europe, Belgium is known for its Liege waffles and beer, but it’s usually chocolate that most people attribute to the kingdom with three official national languages.
Today we explore what it is exactly about Belgian chocolate that stands out to us chocolate lovers that perhaps Aussie chocolate doesn’t always meet.
The roots of Belgian chocolate trace back to the early 1800s when innovative chocolatiers began to emerge, transforming the modest treat into a gastronomic marvel. You can't delve into the allure of Belgian chocolate without acknowledging the pivotal role played by the country's early commitment to sourcing the finest cocoa beans from around the globe.
From lush plantations in South America to sun-kissed fields in Africa, Belgian chocolatiers carefully curated their cocoa selection, emphasising quality over quantity - which is what we usually think of with Belgian chocolate, the quality!
However, they quickly learned that Belgium’s humid climate was actually ideal for growing their own cacao beans which led to the cultivation of plantations equal to those of South Africa.
Belgian artisans blend cocoa beans with a precision that borders on alchemy. The art of conching, a delicate dance of grinding and refining, imparts the characteristic silkiness to Belgian chocolate, setting it apart from the ordinary. Tempering, another cherished technique, ensures a glossy sheen and a velvety mouthfeel, elevating the chocolate experience to a sublime level - but we have a whole entire article dedicated to that, right here.
As well as sourcing from the world’s best cacao bean regions, Belgium's chocolate mastery is intrinsically tied to the diversity of its own national regions. The coastal plains, with their temperate climate are conducive to cultivating delicate cocoa trees; meanwhile, the Ardennes, with pristine landscapes, influence the terroir of the beans, imbuing them with unique flavour profiles.
What truly distinguishes Belgian chocolate however is a commitment to craftsmanship - each chocolatier is a guardian of tradition, carrying the torch of generations before them. It is this dedication to the art of chocolate-making that has transformed Belgium into a global epicentre for connoisseurs.
In every velvety bite of Belgian chocolate, you can taste not just the richness of cocoa but also the centuries-old commitment to craftsmanship, innovation and quality.